Fears of new secret army bases

It is reliably informed that one base has been established in the Nuanetsi Range, south of the province, in Mwenezi while another one is believed to be in Hawkdale Farm, 25 kilometers from Masvingo, a few kilometers before the small mining town of Mashava.

“It is true that soldiers have been deployed to those places, and this is not only in Masvingo alone, but in other provinces as well. They are not army bases as such, but transit camps,” said a top army official who spoke strictly on condition of anonymity.

Last week, some disgruntled MDC Members of Parliament (MPs) in the province said they were fed up with the slow progress in the implementation of the GPA and have since started campaigning in anticipation of fresh elections.

The source said the army was secretly stockpiling weapons in anticipation of a mass rebellion by the people over Mugabe’s intransigence, or in the case that the MDC-T pulls out.

However, Army headquarters 4 Brigade commander, Brigadier General Francis Mtisi, watered down the issue, saying they were ‘just training camps for army recruits”.

“I do not know about those secret army bases you are talking about, unless it is done from the headquarters without my consent, which is very unlikely. Probably you saw places where we train our recruits, try to verify your information,” Mtisi said.

But villager in Nuanetsi Range also confirmed the sudden appearance of soldiers and army vehicles in the 20 000 hectare ranch.

“Yesterday, we woke up to see a heavy army presence. We were afraid….But they did not disturb us; neither did they say a word to us. They were just busy erecting their structures,” said some villagers.

Another source in Mashava also concurred that there was a secret army base ‘established overnight’.

It also reported that the army has its traditional training places in the province like the Mushandike ‘Bullet Range’ near Masvingo, another one in Gutu, as well as the Chalenga air force training in Chikombedzi, south of Chiredzi town.

There are fears the unity government could be facing collapse as Zanu PF and MDC trade acusations about each other. Mugabe has complained that MDC is reluctant to push the West to remove sanctions, which he says have killed the economy.

On the other hand, MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai has formally complained to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) about Mugabe’s failure to adhere to the principles of the GPA, citing the unilateral appointments of the Attorney General Johannes Tomana and the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono among others. Radio VOP